Today theres a high chance youve stumbled upon a gif of Tituss Burgess, most likely as his character in Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Titus Andromedon.
Whether youre using his face as a shocked reaction to Ariana Grande and Pete Davidons split, or simply celebrating the beginning of the work week (some people might do that) with a tasty dose of peeno noir, he pops up on the reg in our social media, text and WhatsApp chat. And, probably, in this article, yes.
What is it like to be the man behind the images, though? Your face being sent around group chats as the only way in which youre able to illustrate your emotions in that moment…
I dont know how people make those things, Ive seen a few of those, Tituss laughs when chatting with Metro.co.uk about being turned into a meme. Whatever is going to get people through the day – if Im the way for people to express themselves, go ahead and do it.
The actor, 39, who is heading into the final TV season of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, is teaming up with Virgin for their inaugural Pride Flight next year, has become prolific on social media. Not just the use of his face as a gif, but his messages about equality are spread far and wide.
However, he became the subject, rather than the messenger, of intense internet chatter and outrage when earlier this year he was snubbed for his fourth potential Emmy award.
The people were not happy. There were internet articles about it, social media posts, polls, forum conversation – it was a thing, guys.
Was Tituss just as outrages about the snub of Titus (one s).
Ive heard and Ive seen, heres what Ill say: It is an honour to be in the conversation. So have the academy have acknowledged me this many times, he said. Im young in the game and Im appreciative theyre so aggravated on my behalf. I need them to know there is a great, great deal of content I am working on specifically with them in mind and they should not waste their energy on statues, where I am concerned.
The comedic actors work with Virgins Pride Flight – of which hell host alongside an exclusively LGBTQ crew – comes at a time when celebrities are now more than ever showing up and raising their voice for all that is good – and to commemorate the 50th anniversary of New York Citys Stonewall Riots.
The actor recently said he is happy the current political environment, however horrible in many ways, has revealed a voice many didnt think they had and a want to stand up and fight for equality and rights.
If we dont show up, you dont know something exists, if you dont know it exists you dont have something to aspire to, he told Metro.co.uk. So its important for that little rural, LGBTQ kid who is in a rural part of the world to know that there is a way to be out there and a way to exist, there are people like me. There are people he can turn to and look to for guidance and inspiration.
Its important for celebrities to continue to show up. I didnt have anybody that looked like me when I was growing up. I didnt know who Ru Paul was, he might have been the only one there that had some visibility on TV but beyond that I dont know I had anybody, so its important to show up and give these kids a face with the way of being, so they can connect the dots.
Tituss told us the reason hes donning the pilots uniform, flanked by an exclusively LGBTQ team of cabin crew for the Virgin initiative, is because it lined up with his own personal mission statement which is to live out loud.
I think its so audacious and wonderful for such a huge conglomerate like Virgin to make such a bold statement into the world of its support when the politics of the world seemed to be moving in the direction not in support of our basic human rights, he said. So its good to have something flying through the air to show everyone.
A celebration of queer culture 38,000ft above the Atlantic, the flight will feature special on-board entertainment including on board DJ, Drag-Queen Bingo, Judy Garland singalong, inter-seat speed dating and special in-flight entertainment. Which is everything you want out of a Pride flight to celebrate in the US.
However, his role as an ambassador for such an initiative it something Tituss is getting use to on a smaller scale as a prolific face on social media. Talking about everything from aforementioned equal rights to simply sharing a moment of his day, hes become a voice online.
Its so weird for me to hear that, Ive had to come to terms with it – I am someone that people will look up to whether I like it or not, he said.
I was out having some drinks with some friends and this lady, a young black woman, storms over and grabs me and she looked me in the eye and said “you dont understand what you do for us and how you make us feel. You give us such hope and you speak out and say the things no one else will say”. She had tears in her eyes, it brings me to tears thinking about it.
Theres a responsibility that goes along with it and I hope I dont disappoint, I wear it like a badge of honour. If that is who they need me to be, then I will be that.
Having played Titus Andromedon since 2015, hes been cast in other kooky, flamboyant, pigeon-holed roles at times.
However, having just wrapped Dolemite Is My Name alongside Eddie Murphy, as well as myriad other roles he cant yet mention, has it been hard to break away from people only seeing you as the quirky mate?
Umm, it can be. For some people, he said before singing his next line: But some people aint me…
I dont give a lot of attention of energy to trying to break type, I just do me and I do me and show up how I need to show up, I wear many different hats.
If you choose to eat the meal Ive created – and I can cook a lot of meals – thats great. And if you dont like it then go to McDonalds.
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